On Veterans Day, we proudly salute those who serve

Veterans Day services will be held in the next few days throughout the area to acknowledge and pay tribute to those who have served in our country’s armed forces.

Try finding just one home that doesn’t include a family member or relative who took the oath to protect our country. Marines are “The Few, The Proud,” but many are the veterans in all service branches. There are those who saw action in times of war and those who stood watch in times of peace, and some men and women who did both. They paid with life, limb and family sacrifice.

This Veterans Day is particularly poignant as we remember one Simi Valley solider, Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Cribben, who was killed last weekend in Afghanistan. The 33-year-old Green Beret died Sat., Nov. 4 in the country’s Logar province from wounds sustained during combat. A husband and father of two young sons, the Royal High School graduate was assigned to the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. Cribben’s service to country should never be forgotten.

The origins of Veterans Day date back to the end of World War I. Known at the time as The Great War, the global conflict that began in 1914 and lasted for four long years claimed the lives of not only an estimated 11 million military personnel—116,500 of them American—but also some 7 million civilians. Absolute carnage, it finally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

Following the cease-fire (and about five months after the Treaty of Versailles was signed, putting an official end to the war), U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919 Armistice Day, celebrating the end of one of history’s deadliest conflicts.

Armistice Day was declared a legal holiday in 1938 primarily to honor veterans of the First World War but also to celebrate world peace. It wasn’t until 1954 that Congress replaced the word “Armistice” with “Veterans” and Nov. 11 became the holiday we know it to be today: an occasion to honor American veterans of all wars.

And while Saturday is Veterans Day, it’s worth pointing out that Fri., Nov. 10 marks the official birthday of the United States Marine Corps, our proud service branch that has fought from the shores of Tripoli to the banks of the Mekong and Euphrates rivers. The Marines and other branches have been indispensable to the preservation of our country’s freedom, and to all the men and women who have served —from the first War of Independence to the conflicts in which we find ourselves today—we say, humbly, “Thank you.”

For those of you who would like to attend an activity locally, try the Veterans Day ceremony hosted by the Conejo Valley Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars beginning at 11 a.m. Sat., Nov. 11 at the Thousand Oaks Veterans Memorial at Conejo Creek Park North.